How to analyze Windows 10 upgrade errors
Whenever updates for Windows are released, reports about issues with these updates are usually posted soon thereafter to forums and social media sites.
This is true more so for big updates or upgrades, but even a small update can cause all kinds of issues.
Microsoft released the Fall Creators Update this week, and reports are getting in that users run into the usual assortment of issues.
I tried to upgrade two machines, one Surface Pro 4 device with light changes only to the default system, and a Windows 10 Pro desktop system.
While I was able to update these devices fine when previous feature updates were released, I did not have as much luck this time. Both threw a bluescreen error during installation, and Windows' only resource at the time was to restore the previous version of the operating system (which in both cases was the Creators Update).
Windows 10 Setup displays information after the restoration, but the message is usually pretty cryptic so that you may not be able to resolve the issue right away.
The desktop system was hit with error 0xC1900101 - 0x30017 The installation failed in the FIRST_BOOT phase with an error during BOOT operation. So, something happened during first boot of the system that caused the issue.
A good starting point is to run a search for the error code on the Internet to see what comes up. The particular error that I ran into seems common, as users were hit with it as early as 2015 when they tried to upgrade machines to Windows 10. Günter Born published an article on the error code on his blog back in 2015 for instance.
Most indicate a issue with installed drivers, but there was no "do this" fix available to resolve the issue.
One of the things that you can do to find out what exactly happened is to check the setup log. This works only if you can still boot into Windows 10 afterwards, or at least access the hard drive of the device.
Go to C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther and to C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Rollback, and open the file setuperr.log that is in those directories. It lists errors that Windows Setup encountered when it processed and installed the update.
Note: The directory is hidden, and you need to reveal it first if you have not done so already. Select File > Options > View > and make sure "show hidden files, folders and drives" is checked.
The log is quite technical as well, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to find out what caused the installation failure.
Not all of the errors that you find listed in the log are critical. I suggest you work your way from the last entry to the very first, as the last entry is the last that was written to the log, and it is usually closest to the issue that caused the bluescreen or termination of the update.
There is a chance that you cannot identify the issue by going through the error log. You may want to try the following things in that case:
- If you use full disk encryption, decrypt the drive before you run the upgrade again.
- Make sure all drivers are up to date, and that old drivers and devices are removed.
- Unplug any device not required for the upgrade.
- Some third-party software may interfere with updates: consider removing security software, virtual drives software and the like (and make sure you install them afterwards again).
If the installation is not time critical, you may also want to wait and see if Microsoft pushes out an update that resolves the issue.
Now You: How do you analyze Windows update issues?